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Reducing Your Holiday Colon Cancer Risk

Lifestyle and Dietary Changes


Updated October 22, 2012

Forget the New Year's resolution. This year, try something new and make a holiday resolution to reduce your risk of colon cancer and improve your health. Whether you are a survivor trying to avoid recurrence or just looking to take care of yourself, start your resolution now and you will be months ahead of everyone else come January 1st.

Don't Baste the Feast with Carcinogens

Step away from the turkey-fryer and grill, which can add chemicals to your otherwise healthy poultry, roast or salmon this season. Any cooking method that uses extreme heat, such as char grilling or deep-frying, introduces two known carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Reduce your risk of colon cancer and get up early to slow-bake the turkey, roast or fish in the oven.

Ask for a Second Helping of Phytochemicals

Cranberries, garlic, beans and sweet potatoes are just a few examples of fruits and vegetables containing phytochemicals, which are the micronutrients that give your produce its vital colors, smells and texture. Before they were harvested, the plants used these phytochemicals to protect against disease and insects. A diet rich in plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables, may help reduce your risk of cancer.

Stick to One Glass of Wine

Wine aficionados may already have a chilled bottle of white wine (bubbles optional) to pair with their holiday feast. Colon cancer is linked to heavy alcohol use -- play it on the safe side this holiday season and every day after by sticking to one four-ounce glass for women or two for men.

Say "No Thanks" to Saturated Fats

Many delicious staples of the holiday meals are loaded with saturated fat, which is not good for your colon or your heart. If it gets chunky at room temperature (think thick gravy, turkey skin, bacon grease on the beans), it is most likely a saturated or trans-saturated fat -– avoid it.

Walk it Off

Taking a walk after your feast will not only stave off post-massive consumption exhaustion, it can also help reduce your risk of colon cancer. Walking hits on two big risk factors for colon cancer: inactivity and obesity. Take your loved ones with you and embrace your ability to start doing something to improve your lifestyle -- today.


American Cancer Society. (2008). Colorectal Cancer. What You Need to Know – NOW. Atlanta: American Cancer Society Health Promotions.

Beliveau, R. & Gingras, D. (2007). Foods to Fight Cancer. New York: DK Publishing.

Sinha, R., Peters, U., Cross, A.J., et al. (September, 2011). Meat, Meat Cooking Methods and Preseveration and Risk for Colorectal Adenoma. Cancer Research, 65; 8034. Accessed November 2, 2011 from doi: 10.1158/0008-5472. CAN-04-3429.

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